City staff will be looking into the feasibility of holding winter and summer festivals in an effort to combine both new and existing events within Brantford.
Councilors unanimously supported Councillor Gino Caputo’s resolution during a Committee of the Whole meeting on Tuesday, June 6, 2023.
The resolution calls for City Staff to look into the potential of seasonal festivals starting in 2024, including a report with the general outline and project plan, estimated costs, venues and resources required to be due by the end of 2023.
Caputo spoke about previous and existing community-led events such as the Santa Claus Parade, Frosty Fest, Brantford Air Show, Crewfest, Brantford Kinsmen Ribfest and more, as well as the potential of scheduling certain events during the same week in their respective seasons.
“I want a city that’s going to have something behind it that is going to allow community involvement, pride and culture,” said Caputo. “I think if we took the time and the resources that we have, and go back to some of the stuff that we had already been doing – whether it be Frosty Fest or Chili Willy Cook Off – we can marry those events and put them into the same week.”
Caputo discussed having the tourism department involved, as well as neighbourhood associations to help organize such festivals.
“I’d certainly like to have the experts in that, which is tourism, and economic development to really drive this forward,” he said. “I think if we put our heads together and really look at something, I think it could be pretty impactful. And then last but certainly not least, I would like to get neighbourhood associations involved in planning and organizing various events within their entire areas.”
He also noted that corporate sponsorship would be vital to help with the costs of such summer and winter festivals.
Councillor Richard Carpenter noted that the city could possibly ease up on significant costs to help with such community events.
“The cost is rather prohibitive for a lot of groups to do events and there are lots of things going on,” said Councillor Richard Carpenter. “We could pull these things together, and Council could show support for these organizations by reducing the costs,”
With volunteer numbers down, Councillor Brian Vantilborg wondered how the city could better market these festivals and encourage more participation within the community and out of it.
“We all know we had a bit of a breakdown a year or two ago that lasted a while,” he said. “A lot of the connections and things that people were used to doing have broken down and we found coming out of COVID that for whatever reason volunteerism has kind of vaporized. It’s been very difficult for groups to get the people to put together the events that they want to do.”
Maria Visocchi, Director of Communications noted that in the past the city has marketed events with similar timing by offering hotel discounts and other various bundles alongside the County of Brant and Six Nations of the Grand River.
Councillor John Sless agreed that this could be an opportunity to create events within the city that could provide entertainment for those unable to travel.
“I think with the cost of living and the cost of traveling, there’s a lot of folks looking for things to do on their vacations and staying at home,” said Sless. “It brings to mind back in the mid 80s and in the early 90s, we had a celebration of the river and it was called River Fest. It was a huge event that was packed and people were excited and there were things going on all over.”
Overall, Councillors were happy to support the resolution and are looking forward to the potential of culture, pride and economic growth.